BY MELISSA SOLANO
“Every child in the world should receive one good meal a day in their place of education.” This is the vision and mission statement of Mary’s Meals, a Catholic organization that, since 2002, has been working to make that vision a reality. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder of the organization, spoke at Franciscan University on Sept. 15 on behalf of Franciscan’s Mary’s Meals chapter and the Center for Leadership.
Dr. Andrew Minto, adviser to the campus chapter of Mary’s Meals, gave a short introduction about the organization and its founder. “The decision you make today can feed a child tomorrow,” he said before showing the Grassroots short film “Child 31.”
The film is a short documentary showing the efforts of the organization and introducing viewers to the harsh reality of what children in developing countries are dealing with, as well as the difference that Mary’s Meals has made in their lives. Many children who otherwise would have been on the streets have made an ardent effort to attend school because of Mary’s Meals, and their lives have been transformed.
After the film, MacFarlane-Barrow took to the podium to speak and answer questions. “There is no good reason why any child should die of hunger. It is not difficult to feed a child,” he said, adding that the cost of feeding one child for a single school year would amount to about $16.80.
His idea is that if schools can offer children one good meal every day, more children will eagerly attend school. Education is key to solving the issue of poverty in these countries—particularly countries like India where girls are less encouraged to obtain an education, he said.
MacFarlane-Barrow also thanked Franciscan’s chapter of Mary’s Meals for raising enough money to help open a second kitchen in Malawi, which is now called the “St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen.”
Mary’s Meals is currently working actively in 19 countries, including: Malawi, Liberia, India, Haiti, Bosnia and the Philippines. The organization feeds over 792,000 children a day. Besides encouraging people to donate to Mary’s Meals, MacFarlane-Barrow passed out small prayer cards and asked everyone to “pray that they continue to do this work and to honor Our Blessed Mother.” He said, “We have been so successful because it is the work of Our Lady.”